Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal: game over after 20 minutes thanks to superb one-touch football

February 10, 2014
Liverpool 5-1 Arsenal: game over after 20 minutes thanks to superb one-touch football

Liverpool produced the best spell of football the Premier League has seen this season, and recorded a crushing victory over the (former) league leaders.

Brendan Rodgers named an unchanged side, despite the option of fit-again Joe Allen. He’s still without four key defenders.

Arsene Wenger brought Jack Wilshere into the side, moving Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out to the right flank. Nacho Monreal continued at left-back.

This was such a convincing victory, and the game was won so quickly, that it almost defies analysis. Liverpool established their lead from two set-pieces but continually opened up Arsenal in open play, and were always ready to pounce on the counter-attack. Read more »

Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea: cautious team selection from Mourinho, but positive approach

February 4, 2014
Manchester City 0-1 Chelsea: cautious team selection from Mourinho, but positive approach

Chelsea kept a clean sheet and created a number of chances in a highly impressive away performance.

Manuel Pellegrini was without Sergio Aguero, Samir Nasri and Fernandinho. He kept a 4-4-2 with Edin Dzeko and Alvaro Negredo upfront, and brought Martin Demichelis into the midfield.

Jose Mourinho left out Oscar and played a cautious midfield featuring both David Luiz and Nemanja Matic.

Chelsea were excellent here, working extremely hard without the ball, counter-attacking effectively and being more adventurous than expected. Read more »

Barcelona 2-3 Valencia: Valencia rewarded for bravery on the counter-attack

February 3, 2014
Barcelona 2-3 Valencia: Valencia rewarded for bravery on the counter-attack

Barcelona suffered their first home defeat of the season, to a Valencia side who had the third-worst away record in La Liga.

Tata Martino rested Andres Iniesta, and is still without Neymar.

Valencia had a busy few days in the transfer window – mainly with players departing. Helder Postiga, Ever Banega and Andres Guardado have all left the club. Juan Antonio Pizzi selected a cautious XI with five players across midfield, including two holding midfielders, while Jonas was only on the bench.

This was a peculiar game. Barcelona were utterly dominant for the first 40 minutes, with little sign Valencia were set to record an upset. This wasn’t exactly a masterclass from Pizzi, but elements of Valencia’s play – and particularly their bravery in getting men forward on the break – should be applauded. Read more »

Liverpool 4-0 Everton: direct football and Sturridge wide-left helps Liverpool win easily

January 29, 2014
Liverpool 4-0 Everton: direct football and Sturridge wide-left helps Liverpool win easily

Another high-scoring Merseyside derby – but this time, the goals were all at one end.

Brendan Rodgers was without Glen Johnson, Daniel Agger, Mamadou Sakho, Jose Enrique, Joe Allen and Lucas Leiva, so had a patched-up back four, with Steven Gerrard in the deepest midfield role.

Roberto Martinez welcomed back Ross Barkley, but was without both Sylvain Distin and Seamus Coleman.

In an extremely intense, fast-paced match, Liverpool effectively sealed the victory by half-time. Read more »

Chelsea 3-1 Man United: Moyes’ use of Januzaj proves clever, but United sloppy at the back

January 20, 2014
Chelsea 3-1 Man United: Moyes’ use of Januzaj proves clever, but United sloppy at the back

Samuel Eto’o scored a hattrick as Chelsea convincingly defeated Manchester United without playing particularly well.

Jose Mourinho welcomed back Branislav Ivanovic, meaning Cesar Azpilicueta reverted to left-back and Ashley Cole was dropped. Nemanja Matic was on the bench, while Eto’o got the nod over Fernando Torres upfront.

David Moyes brought Phil Jones into his midfield and played Ashley Young on the left, moving Adnan Januzaj central and dropping Shinji Kagawa.

Manchester United actually started very well, but an unfortunate concession and sloppy set-piece defending let them down. Read more »